Yesterday’s photograph from Ria-Novosti flashed around the world, showing the more human side of Vladimir Putin. He’s visiting a hospital in Belgorod and horsing around with the Governor, Yevgeny Savchenko.
You don’t need to be a KGB analyst to read the unspoken subtext. ‘Keep on paying me the krysha,’ he’s saying, ‘or next time it’s without novocaine.’
The scene it calls to mind is Laurence Olivier with Dustin Hoffman in ‘Marathon Man’: the effortful extraction of unwilling information. Do floss thoroughly, tonight. You really don’t ever want to meet these guys.